Karen Veazey

@veazeykmy | contributor
Karen Veazey is a Las Vegas-based writer focused on health and lifestyle topics. Her byline has also appeared on sites for The Atlantic, The Lily, Romper, SheKnows, and more. Prior to her freelance writing career she worked in radio for 15 years.
Karen Veazey

What to Know About the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 Vaccine Pause

Fast facts: Use of the Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine has been paused so t he CDC and FDA can investigate a rare but severe side effect. So far this side effect has appeared in six reported cases, all arising six to 13 days after vaccination. The White House is urging the public not to be concerned. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine works slightly differently from Pfizer and Moderna, but still appears to be an effective way to prevent severe infection from coronavirus. For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine, you can visit the CDC’s website. CBS News is offering live updates about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause here. Use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine is being paused in the U.S. so the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) can investigate what they call a rare and severe side effect. Since the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was approved for emergency use in late February, about 6.8 million doses have been administered, according to a joint statement from the two organizations, addressing the pause. Today FDA and @CDCgov issued a statement regarding the Johnson & Johnson #COVID19 vaccine. We are recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine out of an abundance of caution.— U.S. FDA (@US_FDA) April 13, 2021 All COVID-19 vaccines have the potential to produce some common side effects like a sore arm, body aches, fatigue or flu-like symptoms. But six cases of a rare and severe type of blood clot have surfaced among women between the ages of 18 and 48. The type of blood clot is called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) and it can occur when there are low blood platelet levels present. In all six cases symptoms arose between six and 13 days after vaccination. Typically, treatment for a blood clot calls for administration of the anticoagulant drug heparin, but in the case of CVST heparin can create complications so doctors must use alternative treatment methods. The CDC was not specific about what that entails. The CDC and FDA will now convene an advisory committee and review board to evaluate these cases and weigh their potential significance on overall vaccination efforts. They also stress that the pause is to give health care providers time to plan to recognize and treat these blood clots, should they occur. Speaking on a media call , Dr. Peter Marks, Director, FDA Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said experts don’t have a definitive cause yet for these cases of CVST. “We can speculate a similar mechanism that may be going on with other adenoviral vector vaccine [Oxford-AstraZeneca]. That is, this is an immune response, that occurs very, very rarely after some people receive the vaccine, and that immune response leads to activation of the platelets and these extremely rare blood clots.” Anyone who has received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and develops a severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain or shortness of breath within three weeks should contact their doctor, the statement advised. Jeff Zients, the White House COVID-19 response coordinator released a statement urging the public not to be concerned about this temporary pause’s impact on vaccination efforts. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine comprises less than five percent of current vaccine use, he said. And the U.S. has already ordered enough Pfizer and Moderna doses to vaccinate 300 million Americans. He said they are working with state and federal partners to get anyone currently scheduled for a Johnson & Johnson vaccine rescheduled for a Pfizer or Moderna option. Johnson & Johnson said they are reviewing the cases of blood clots with European health officials and have temporarily decided to delay the release of their vaccine in Europe. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine works slightly differently from the highly touted mRNA technology of Pfizer and Moderna, but the effect is the same — it prevents severe infection from coronavirus. It works through a process known as viral vector , in which a modified version of a different virus — not the coronavirus — is delivered into cells. This virus has instructions on it that tell the body to produce a harmless piece of the virus that causes COVID-19. Our body recognizes this piece as a foreign invader and begins to build defenses against it in the form of immunity. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine had an efficacy rate of 66 percent in clinical trials. Marks said this pause is not a mandate but a recommendation, according to NPR . “We are not going to stop a provider from administering the vaccine,” he said, but doctors and patients should work together to determine the best course of action for them.

Karen Veazey

Doctor Shows How To Talk To Patients About Weight on TikTok

A TikToker who goes by @thatgaydoctor has gone viral for a brilliant video in which he describes the non-stigmatizing way he speaks with his patients about weight. The man behind @thatgaydoctor is a primary care physician in Chicago, according to his Instagram bio. In the TikTok video caption he wrote, “Many come in to talk about weight, others avoid the Dr for fear of it. I change my script to try to fit needs/goals. Not a one size fits all chat.” @thatgaydoctorMany come in to talk about weight, others avoid the Dr for fear of it. I change my script to try to fit needs/goals. Not a one size fits all chat!♬ original sound – thatgaydoctor In the video, he lists a six-step approach to broaching the discussion about weight. After a pleasant greeting, he first asks, “Is it OK if we talk about your weight?” which gives the patient an opportunity to decline to discuss it. Next, he tells them their weight and asks, if it’s his first time meeting the patient, if that is a typical weight or if there has been any change lately? Once he hears the answer he suggests asking if the patient is comfortable and happy with their current weight, or if they would like to change it in any way. Based on the patient’s answer he’ll proceed by asking, “Do you have a certain number that you’re aiming for or are you more just about how you look and feel?” This information, he said, lets him know how the patient sets goals. Once he hears the response he’ll ask if there is anything the patient can identify, like diet or exercise, that “need[s] to be improved upon,” or would they like him to make general recommendations? After this portion of the conversation, he recommends they check bloodwork to be sure there are no health issues to be addressed. “If we find anything abnormal it’ll just be more motivation to make change,” he tells them. This script is simple to follow and respectful of the patient, which is why it’s gotten such a positive reaction. In the video’s comments people are effusing praise and emotion. “I don’t know why I wanted to cry SO BAD because I’ve never had a medical professional talk to me like this and I wish they would have,” said one commenter. Not wanting to discuss weight is a big issue for many patients when they visit the doctor. In fact, it’s a reason some people avoid going altogether, and that can have serious health consequences. Joan Chrisler, Ph.D., and professor of psychology at Connecticut College told a symposium on sizeism, “Disrespectful treatment and medical fat shaming, in an attempt to motivate people to change their behavior, is stressful and can cause patients to delay health care seeking or avoid interacting with providers.” And doctors may even treat patients differently based on their weight. One study of autopsy reports found that obese people were 1.65 times more likely to have undiagnosed, serious medical issues. Doctors could be blaming symptoms on weight that deserve more investigation and diagnosis. That’s why @thatgaydoctor’s input is so valuable for the medical community, and why it’s prompted such support from people who view it. “How do I send this to my doctor, without sending this to my doctor?” one person quipped.

Karen Veazey

'To All the Boys' Actress Lana Condor Talks About Body Dysmorphia

The pressure to look good can take a toll on anyone who works in the entertainment industry. But for actress Lana Condor, the struggle started years before she ever arrived in Tinseltown. In fact, it was her first big acting role that clued her in to her battle with body dysmorphia. Condor, star of the hit movie series “To All the Boys,” spoke with People about the topic in an interview where she reflected on her high school days in a New York City performing arts school. With days split between academics and dance, she admitted that “the performing arts aspect was much more important than the academic side.” All that time dancing meant fierce inspection and judgement of her body, however. “I was constantly critiquing myself because all you see is yourself in the mirrors, wearing the bare minimum,” she said. And over time that took a toll, until she realized she experienced body dysmorphia. Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a mental health condition that causes someone to obsess over “an imagined or very slight defect in their body,” according to the Cleveland Clinic. Condor said her struggles with BDD became apparent when she saw photos of herself on the red carpet at the premiere of her first movie, “X-Men: Apocalypse.” “I remember at the time feeling like I looked horrible. I thought I had never been bigger, I had never looked worse,” she told People. “And then I see the photos again and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, Lana, the way you were talking about yourself and the way that you saw yourself was so not the reality.’” Condor credits her family and boyfriend, singer Anthony De La Torre, for helping her with her mental health journey. “I really have not been very comfortable talking so openly about my mental health struggles, but he’s been the person who’s been like, ‘Let’s talk through this. There’s no shame behind it,’” she said. She and De La Torre also chose to leave Los Angeles and move to Seattle to help find space and peace. The full interview is published in People magazine this week. Condor’s latest film, “To All the Boys: Always and Forever,” is available on Netflix now.   View this post on Instagram  A post shared by @lanacondor For more information on body dysmorphia, visit The Mighty’s body dysmorphic disorder community.

Karen Veazey

Can People With ADHD Experience Hyperfixation

From time to time we can all get a little too focused on things that interest us. Maybe a loved one has to speak twice to draw our attention away from the TV. Or we spend an entire afternoon without even realizing it while putting together a puzzle. But hyperfixation is a real issue for many people in the United States, and it’s more than just a few moments of inattention that can be easily remedied. Hyperfixation is the experience of focusing attention on one area of interest to the exclusion of everything else for an extended period of time (usually hours). It is common in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) but is not considered a symptom officially. Hyperfixation, also called hyperfocus, is not well studied, and much of what is known about it relies on experiential evidence. Billy Roberts, LISW-S, a social worker with Focused Mind ADHD Counseling, explained, “Hyperfixation can be a hallmark feature of ADHD. As a result of challenges with ‘executive functioning,’ or the brain’s CEO, adults with ADHD struggle with uneven attention. An example of hyperfixation is getting consumed by one task even at the expense of seeing the ‘bigger picture.’” Children can also hyperfixate although the focus of attention for adults and children is often different. While a child might get caught up in TV or a video game, adults may fixate on the internet or a house project. Lucia Wallis Smith, LPC, a psychotherapist with Clear Mind Counseling, explained that the hyperfixation activity usually offers some reward to the individual. “People with ADHD can often hyperfixate on certain pleasurable activities and actually use them to de-stress and self soothe,” Wallis Smith said. “It seems counterintuitive, but is explainable because most of the choices of hyperfixation activities are highly engaging and provide frequent rewards so focus is reinforced. Video games are a good example of this.” People with ADHD are often thought to be distractable, so hyperfixation seems like a contradictory reaction. But it might be better to think of those with ADHD as having a dysregulated focus response, which can result in inattention or extremely fixated attention. One study, published in ADHD Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders, noted that ADHD behaviors are not binary (e.g. only good or only bad) but they exist on a spectrum. In this way, hyperfixation can be a positive thing when it is focused on productive tasks. However, even during these periods of productivity someone with ADHD has to be cautious not to become so hyperfocused they completely lose track of time or forget important things like eating. Hyperfixation may seem similar to addiction, particularly when it is centered around screen time. But Dr. Jaydeep Tripathy, a Primary Care Doctor at Doctor Spring, said the two are easy to differentiate. Addiction is marked by dependence on something that produces symptoms – physical or mental – in its absence. “Hyperfixation, on the other hand, has drop off periods where the person’s extreme interest in something decreases or totally disappears, only to be reignited after a few days. The technical identifier that distinguishes between the two is dependence.” That’s not to say that hyperfixation doesn’t take a toll. Mighty contributor Hannah F. shared her experience with the Hyperfixation Community. “All these thoughts are like mosquitos. They keep coming no matter how much bug spray you put on, they buzz around your head, they bite you and you swat away violently. No matter what you do you still get bitten and itching for comfort. No matter how hard I try to not think about these thoughts to try and not stress out the thoughts still linger in my head and I get worked up over them,” she wrote. Many people with ADHD or parents of children with ADHD want to know the best way to counteract hyperfixation. Roberts suggested opening a conversation as a first step. “One way to cope with hyperfixation is to use it as a superpower, focusing on creativity or interests that serve your goals. If a loved one is hyperfixated, it can help to start a dialogue about the behaviors. Adults with ADHD might not even realize they are becoming fixated; a validating but honest conversation can be helpful for both parties,” he said. Smith advised the use of timers to help a person prevent getting into a hyperfixated state. “I collaborate with my clients to devise a reasonable schedule — keeping in mind what is important for mental and physical health, deciding how to fit in the activity of hyperfixation in with the other neglected activities. Often, we come up with a daily timeline specifying what times and how long they engage in healthy and productive activities.  I don’t completely cut them off from their pleasurable hyperfixation activity, I just help them manage it.” For more on hyperfixation and to connect with others who experience it, visit The Mighty’s Hyperfixation Community.

Karen Veazey

Demi Lovato Reveals Why Overdose Left Lasting Brain Damage

Demi Lovato is speaking out, telling the story of the 2018 overdose that nearly took her life, and how her life has changed since. In a trailer for the new documentary, “Dancing With the Devil” Lovato shared that while in the hospital she experienced a heart attack and three strokes that have left a lasting impact. The documentary is a four-part series being released on YouTube. It features a bluntly honest and vulnerable Lovato, along with her mother and step-father, sister and friends, including Elton John. “When you’re young, and you’re famous, my God it’s tough,” John said in the trailer. In a phone call with reporters, Lovato shared that she’s been permanently affected by the strokes. “I was left with brain damage, and I still deal with the effects of that today. I don’t drive a car, because I have blind spots on my vision,” she said. “And I also for a long time had a really hard time reading. It was a big deal when I was able to read out of a book, which was like two months later because my vision was so blurry.” Lovato told People that the physical and emotional consequences of the overdose now serve as a grounding point for her. “I dealt with a lot of the repercussions and I feel like they are still there to remind me of what could happen if I ever get into a dark place again,” she said. She told the magazine that what led her to her “breaking point” included “past traumas” and difficulties she dealt with in the music industry. “I am holding myself accountable,” Lovato said on the call with news outlets. “I learned a lot from my past. I was sober for six years and I learned so much from that journey. That’s the main thing that I learned was coming forward and talking about my story held me accountable.” Following the trailer’s release, fans and celebrities praised Lovato on social media for her strength and generosity in sharing her story. “I can’t express the gratitude I feel for all the love and support I’ve gotten today,” Lovato wrote on her Instagram stories. “It’s still hard to feel worthy of so much love but I’m working on it and letting some of that love sink in makes this process so much easier.” For more information and support for addiction, visit The Mighty’s addiction community.

Karen Veazey

TikToker Shows Why Reusable Straws Don't Work for Disabled People

TikTok may be a fun place to find dog videos and sea shanties, but it’s also being used to educate on an issue important to people with disabilities and chronic illness. Two TikTokers with the handle @actuallyautistickatie and @mousecalledted teamed up for a video that has gone viral demonstrating why different types of reusable straws can cause problems drinking. The video begins with @actuallyautistickatie explaining that some people need single-use plastic straws for mobility and other reasons. TikToker @mousecalledted then appears, sharing that they are one of those people. “I need straws for a variety of complicated reasons,” they said, but single-use straws are hard to get where they live due to a city ordinance. They then went on to showcase several different kinds of reusable straws, from metal to silicone, sharing why they don’t work for them. Two – glass and paper straws – they don’t even own anymore because they simply break or dissolve. A metal straw is the one they use the most, because it is bent in the shape they need, although they hurt their teeth and mouth on it “all the time,” they said. The video has over 199,000 likes and more than 2,200 comments. @mousecalledted#stitch w @actuallyautistickatie  i think the audio is out of sync? also i forgot to mention the two i can’t suck out of are silicone #chronicillness♬ original sound – teddy Plastic straw bans started going into effect around the nation several years ago. Starbucks phased out their use of plastic straws in 2020 and large cities began instituting ordinances against them. But disability advocates have fought for recognition of their needs amid the push to be environmentally conscious. Reusable straws are often inflexible or hard to suck through, something that is vitally important to people with mobility, sensitivity or jaw control issues. “Also, what if you decide on the spur of the moment to go have a drink with friends after work but forgot your reusable straw that day?” Lawrence Carter-Long, communications director for the National Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund told NPR. “[That] doesn’t leave a lot of room for spontaneity — something nondisabled folks get to largely take for granted.” Mighty contributor Naomi also noted that she is often allergic to dyes used in paper straws or stabs the roof of her mouth with inflexible reusable straws. “Disabled people are getting a lot of backlash about their need for bendy plastic straws, and this usually comes from non-disabled people who don’t understand our need for them and how they are essential to be able to simply drink.” Hydration is a basic life function and one we all deserve to be able to access. In saving the earth it’s time to consider the needs and safety of all its inhabitants. “Quit blaming disabled people for killing the environment,” @mousecalledted concluded their video. @mousecalledtedThe brand of the silicone is Senneny & the single use are Repurpose! shirt from @shopsuperrad  🙂 ##straws♬ original sound – teddy

Karen Veazey

Facebook Will Remove Posts Claiming Vaccines Cause Autism

Facebook is doubling down on its war against misinformation, with an announcement of increased vigilance against false vaccine claims. In December, the site began taking down posts that promoted misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine that had been debunked by health experts. Included on the new list is the false claim that vaccines cause autism. Studies have repeatedly shown that vaccines do not cause autism. One concern some people raise revolves around the preservative thimerosal. Nine studies funded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) proved no link between thimerosal and autism. Additionally, between 1999 and 2001 the amount of the preservative in vaccines has been reduced to a trace, in response to a concerted effort conducted before conclusive studies could be completed. The cause of autism and neurodiversity more generally is not currently known. Facebook said that after consultation with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other professional health organizations, it is expanding the list of what constitutes a false claim to include: COVID-19 is manmade or manufactured Vaccines are not effective at preventing the disease they are meant to protect against It’s safer to get the disease than to get the vaccine Vaccines are toxic, dangerous or cause autism Additional claims that are already being monitored can be viewed on their COVID-19 and Vaccine Policy page. The new decision falls under Facebook’s Coordinating Harm policy, which prohibits content “[C]alling to action, advocating or promoting that others not get the COVID-19 vaccine.” In addition to removing posts that violate the policy, Facebook said that groups, pages and accounts that repeatedly share misinformation could be taken down. Temporarily, admins for groups that have members who have violated the policy in the past will have to approve all posts. Across the board, WHO cites studies that show vaccines are far safer than medicines created to treat many infectious diseases. However, a keyword search of Medline (a databases of studies) returns five times as many hits for the words “vaccine risks” than “vaccine benefits,” proving that the worries over vaccines get much more focus than their positive results. With its recent changes, Facebook is trying to provide ways for people to get complete and accurate information about both COVID-19 and controversy-causing topics like vaccines. It began enforcing their new policy on misinformation immediately and are adding a section called Get the Facts to its COVID-19 Information Center. Going forward the company said searches for vaccine or COVID-19 information will now promote results that are from authoritative, credible sources.

Karen Veazey

Researchers Outline Media Guidelines for Reporting on Self-Harm

Mental health topics can be difficult to discuss. But talking about them is one of the best ways to reduce stigma and assist people who need it with finding help. Now a team of researchers are making it easier for the media to discuss the topic of non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), more commonly known as self-injury, with a set of guidelines for responsible reporting. The research was released in an editorial in the British Journal of Psychiatry. Download an infographic and ISSS white paper on the newly published guidelines for reporting & depicting #NSSI in the media. These materials are perfect for sharing and keeping on hand as a quick reference. https://t.co/y6k4pCWHEF— ISSS (@ITripleS) November 20, 2020 The authors singled out NSSI for their work, defining it as “the purposeful destruction of one’s body tissue without suicidal intent.” They consider it a growing health concern in part because its portrayal in media has grown over the past 15 years, which can lead to irresponsible depictions and coverage. Guidelines for reporting on suicide have been previously released by both the World Health Organization and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Until now, nothing similar has existed for self-harm. About 5.5% of U.S. adults self-injure and about 17.2% of adolescents. There are no differences in self-injury incidences by ethnic or racial identity, according to research from Cornell University. For this most recent editorial, the research team compiled six recommendations for media professionals when reporting on or depicting self-harm. They emphasized that particular care should be taken to follow the first three suggestions. Avoid use of self-harm-related images and details within text, especially of wounds and methods/tools Highlight efforts to seek treatment, stories of recovery, adaptive coping strategies as alternatives to self-injury, and updated treatment and crisis resources Avoid misinformation about self-harm by communicating peer-reviewed and empirically supported material, including distinguishing self-injury from suicide Present information neutrally; avoid exaggerated descriptions of self-harm prevalence and sensational headlines that include NSSI, especially the method of self-injury Use non-stigmatizing language and avoid terms that conflate person and behavior (e.g. ‘cutter’) Ensure that online article comments are responsibly moderated Social media is a different animal, however, and the team admitted as much. Still, they also provided guidelines for people who own and manage social media accounts and platforms, with a focus on prevention. They recommend including pop-ups that offer help or resources when certain self-harm trigger words are used. Additionally: Post clear rules (e.g. no posting of triggering content, clear placement of trigger warnings) Post clear response guidelines for individuals interacting with other users’ posts and easily activated flagging options so that clearly damaging or stigmatizing responses can be quickly identified and removed Utilize robust human and/or machine moderation protocols aimed at quickly identifying and responding to posts that breach platform guidelines Apply meaningful consequences for repeat offenders (e.g. removal from the platform) Regularly update guidelines, site moderators and/or algorithmic responses to incorporate new and emerging knowledge about relevant posting trends In 2019 Instagram began blurring images of self-harm after the death of a 14-year-old girl. Mighty contributor Hannah wrote about that decision. “Maybe if Instagram’s pop-up simply gave links to websites that provide information and opportunities to chat confidentially to someone, then we can use the internet to help. It’s not a perfect solution by any means, but we have to start somewhere,” she said. There are certain times of the year when conversations around suicide and self-harm increase, including World Suicide Prevention Day (Sept. 10), World Mental Health Day (Oct. 10), and Mental Health Awareness Month (May). Widespread dissemination and use of these guidelines may help with more informed, healthy and helpful coverage for those who need to read or see it. If you or a loved one is struggling with self-injury, visit The Mighty’s Guide to Understanding Self-Harm.

Karen Veazey

Report Finds Anti-Baldness Drug Propecia May Lead to Increased Suicide

The makers of popular anti-baldness drug Propecia knew about a risk of suicide for people taking the medication, but decided not to warn the public, according to newly unsealed court documents. The papers show that Merck & Co. opted not to include a warning about suicide risk when it updated the drug’s label in 2011. More than 2.4 million people were prescribed Propecia in 2020, according to Reuters. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received 700 reports of suicidal thoughts and behavior from people taking it during the period 2011-2020. That number included 100 deaths. The documents show that dating back to 2009 Merck had warning of more than 200 reports of depression and suicidal thoughts among people taking the drug. The company decided that was not enough evidence to pursue aggressive research and left the concern as part of its routine monitoring of safety reports. Regulating agencies in Europe and Canada require warnings of suicide risk on the label for finasteride, the generic name for Propecia. The FDA also investigated adding depression as a risk on the drug’s label in 2011, but ultimately decided against it. Kim Witczak, a consumer advocate who advises the FDA on psychiatric drugs, lost her husband to suicide in 2003 after he was prescribed an anti-depressant. “No family should ever have to learn about this after the fact,” she told Reuters. Some antidepressants are thought to cause an increase in suicidal thoughts in some patients, particularly among children and young adults, according to WebMD. Studies show no increase in suicidal thoughts in people aged 25-64, and a decrease among those 65 and older. A study done by Harvard researchers also showed that some medications increase suicidal thoughts, but many popular medications also cause a decrease in them. They studied 922 medications and more than 43,000 suicidal events, including attempts, self-harm and deaths. Ten medications were found to have an increase in suicide risk, while 44 showed a decrease. Thirty of the drugs that promoted a decrease in suicidal thinking were psychotropic medications. The study’s authors note that depression is one of the highest risk factors for suicide, and many people with the condition are prescribed antidepressants. Thus, there may be mitigating factors besides the medication that come into play. Suicide is multifaceted and there is no one cause, including mental health problems or medications. For drugs like Propecia, however, with known increased suicide risk factors, labeling is an important part of serving the public. Merck’s choice to disregard the information and not include a warning in the label should be a source of concern. So far, the FDA has declined to comment on its role or requirements for Propecia.

Karen Veazey

Folx Makes Health Care More Accessible for the Trans Community

Finding good health care can be challenging, but for certain communities, including queer and trans people, it can be nearly impossible. Stigma, lack of training and insensitivity are rampant for these groups of people, and with something as important as health care, the effects can be mentally and physically devastating. A new startup, Folx Health, is working to change all that through a personalized approach that matches trans and queer people seeking care with providers and services who understand their unique needs. Folx just raised $25 million in series A venture funding and is accepting patients now. … because we deserve care that’s as stunning as we are.#FOLXHealth #HRT #TransHealth #QueerHealth pic.twitter.com/dMICAJFYLF— FOLX Health (@folxhealth) December 4, 2020 When a patient contacts Folx, they begin by filling out a complete online medical history. If their need requires a consultation with a health provider, they’ll be matched with someone for a virtual appointment by phone or video. Medication, labs and supplies are delivered to the patient’s door, according to the Folx Health website. One of the company’s foundational principles is “care on our terms,” which means no judgement, gatekeeping or having to explain yourself. One 2015 study conducted with more than 27,000 transgender people found that 19% reported being refused medical care, 28% harassed by providers and 50% had to educate health care providers on transgender care. Twenty-eight percent of respondents also told researchers that they avoid going to the doctor altogether because of such treatment. Folx founder and CEO A.G. Breitenstein told Fast Company that they’re on the verge of becoming a one-stop resource for members of the queer and trans community from information you might find in subreddit threads to clinical information from sources like the Mayo Clinic. “We’re about to launch what we call ‘The Library,’ which is a set of resources,” Breitenstein said. “We’ll have a balance between really well clinically vetted information, but presented in a way that’s accessible and usable for folks.” Current topics in The Library include sexual health, hormone treatment and company news. There are tips like how to overcome needle fears for self-injection, and explainers on hormone lab results. In the future Folx is also preparing to expand services to include treatments for sexually transmitted infections, erectile dysfunction and lab samples taken at home. Right now, users must pay a $59 monthly fee for access to the service, in addition to any treatment costs. Breitenstein said that they’re working to integrate with insurance companies so patients can take advantage of their health care plans. Folx is also working on creating a grant program for people who can’t afford the monthly subscription cost, according to Axios. Folx service is currently available in 12 states, including New York, California and Florida. The company plans to expand nationwide by the end of 2021.